# hello - i am trying to identify the school of philosophy that posits that optimal systems or societies are created only when the designers or creators are blind to the role they will play in that system or society. I haven't the foggiest idea where to start. i apologize if the question is too vague but if you can point me in a direction that would ehlp i would be most appreciative. thanks

What you describe sounds very much like the "veil of ignorance" imposed on the designers of society in John Rawls's hugely influential book A Theory of Justice (Harvard, 1971). I recommend starting there.

# I am learning about the principle of noncontradiction ~(p^~p). I can see that this would work if we assume that 'p' can only be true or false. Why should I make this assumption. I can see a lot instances where we need more than 2 truth values (how people feel about the temperature of a room, for instance could have an infinite number of responses, and all would be true because the proposition is based on subjective experiences). What is this type of logic called? If this is a possible logic then can't someone argue that everything is this way?

Your example about the room temperature doesn't seem to support the idea that we need more than two truth-values, because you classify everyone's responses as true . Instead, the example raises the question of how to interpret the people in the room: as disagreeing with each other because they're making incompatible claims ("It's cold"; "It's not cold") or as only apparently disagreeing with each other because they're making compatible claims ("It feels cold to me"; "OK, but it doesn't feel cold to me "). Standard logic (often called "classical" logic) has just two truth-values. Many-valued logics are nonstandard logics that contain anywhere from three to infinitely many truth-values -- in the latter case, all of the real numbers in the closed interval [0,1], with '0' for 'completely false' and '1' for 'completely true'. You'll find lots of detailed information in this SEP entry .

# Is philosophy about the world or is it just about our concepts and the way we use them? Or both?

I agree: both. There seems to me to be a false dichotomy between "the world" and "our concepts and the way we use them": our concepts and the way we use them are surely part of the world.

# I know affirming the consequent is a fallacy, so that any argument with that pattern is invalid. But what what about analytically true premises, or causal premises? Are these not really instances of the fallacy? They seem to take its form, but they don't seem wrong. For example: 1. If John is a bachelor, he is an unmarried man. 2. John’s an unmarried man. 3. Therefore he’s a bachelor. How can 1 and 2 be true, and 3 be false? Yet it looks like affirming the consequent. 1. X is needed to cause Y. 2. We’ve got Y. 3. Therefore there must have been X. Again, it seems like the truth of 1 and 2 guarantee the truth of 3. What am I missing?

You asked, "How can 1 and 2 be true, and 3 be false?" Suppose that John is divorced and not remarried; he'd be unmarried but not a bachelor. You can patch up the argument by changing (1) to (1*) "If John is a bachelor, he is a never-married man" and changing (2) to (2*) "John is a never-married man." The argument still wouldn't be formally valid, which is the sense of "valid" that Prof. George uses in his reply. But it would be valid in that the premises couldn't be true unless the conclusion were true, because (2*) by itself implies that John is a bachelor. An argument that isn't formally valid -- i.e., an argument whose form alone doesn't guarantee its validity -- can be valid in the sense that the truth of its premises guarantees the truth of its conclusion. The last sentence of Prof. George's reply suggests that definitions are crucial in enabling conclusions to follow from premises. I think that suggestion is true only if logical implication is a relation holding between items of...

# I've recently read that some mathematician's believe that there are "no necessary truths" in mathematics. Is this true? And if it is, what implications would it have on deductive logic, it being the case that deductive logical forms depend on mathematical arguments to some degree. Would in this case, mathematical truths be "contingently-necessary"?

Your question is tantalizing. I wish it had included a citation to mathematicians who say what you report them as saying. On the face of it, their claim looks implausible. Are there no necessary truths at all? If there are necessary truths, how could the mathematical truth that 1 = 1 not be among them? One way to hold that mathematicians seek only contingent truths might be as follows. If some philosophers are correct that propositions are to be identified with sets of possible worlds, then there's only one necessarily true proposition, because there's only one set whose members are all the possible worlds there are. That single necessarily true proposition (call it "T") will be expressed by indefinitely many different sentences , including the sentences "1 = 1" and "No red things are colorless," and it will be contingent just which sentences express T. On this view, mathematicians don't try to discover various necessary truths, since there's just one necessary truth, T. ...

# How, if at all, is the following paradox resolved? You hand someone a card. On one side is printed "The statement on the other side of this card is true." On the other side is printed, "The statement on the other side of this card is false." Thanks for consideration!

You've asked about one version of an ancient paradox called the "Liar paradox" or the "Epimenides paradox." One good place to start looking, then, is the SEP entry on the Liar paradox, available here . Philosophers are all over the map on how to solve paradoxes of this kind, and their proposed solutions are sometimes awfully complicated! Best of luck.

# In discussing abortion, I've been told that the woman has a right to bodily integrity. Therefore she has the right to withdraw consent at any time to the fetus using her body, regardless of the situation of the conception (consensual sex, planned conception). Some say any time prior to viability. Is there a fully fledged philosophical argument along these lines? I'm aware of Judith Jarvis Thompson's thought experiment about the room and the people-seeds, but that didn't invoke the intuition in me, "yes, the seeds can be pulled up at any time." Does the fetus have a competing right to bodily integrity?

@Thomas Pogge: Thomson's violinist analogy doesn't address the questioner's puzzlement, because it doesn't support "the right to withdraw consent at any time to the fetus using her body, regardless of the situation of the conception (consensual sex, planned conception)." Thomson seems to recognize that it doesn't, so she eventually proposes the people-seeds analogy, the analogy the questioner found unpersuasive.

# Here's a quote from Hume: "Nothing, that is distinctly conceivable, implies a contradiction." My question is this: what is the difference between something that is logically a contradiction and something that happens to not be instantiated? For example, ghosts do not exist. Could you explain how the concept of a ghost is not a contradiction? Thanks ^^

What is the difference between something that is logically a contradiction and something that happens to not be instantiated? As I think you already suspect, it's the difference between (1) a concept whose instantiation is contrary to the laws of logic or contrary to the logical relations that obtain among concepts; and (2) a concept whose instantiation isn't contrary to logic but only contrary to fact. Examples of (1) include the concepts colorless red object and quadrilateral triangle . Examples of (2) include the concept child of Elizabeth I of England . Concepts of type (1) are unsatisfiable in the strongest sense; concepts of type (2) are merely unsatisfied. Could you explain how the concept of a ghost is not a contradiction? Good question. I'm not sure the concept isn't internally contradictory. Can ghosts, by their very nature, interact with matter? Some stories seem to want to answer yes and no . If I recall correctly (it's been a while) the movie ...

# Is it true that anything can be concluded from a contradiction? Can you explain? It's seems like its a tautology if taken figuratively because we can indeed conclude anything if we suspend the rules of reasoning, but there is nothing especially interesting in that fact in my humble opinion.

The topic is controversial (as I indicate below), but the inference rules of standard logic do allow you to derive any conclusion at all from any (formally) contradictory premise. Here's one way (let P and Q be any propositions at all): 1. P & Not-P [Premise: formal contradiction] 2. Therefore: P [From 1, by conjunction elimination] 3. Therefore: P or Q [From 2, by disjunction introduction] 4. Therefore: Not-P [From 1, by conjunction elimination] 5. Therefore: Q [From 3, 4, by disjunctive syllogism] Those who object to such derivations usually call themselves "paraconsistent" logicians; more at this SEP entry . They typically reject step 5 on the grounds that disjunctive syllogism "breaks down" in the presence of contradictions. I confess I've never found their line persuasive.
@William Rapaport: Unless disjunctive syllogism or one of the other two rules used in the derivation fails, the "irrelevance" of the conclusion to the premise is irrelevant to whether the conclusion follows from the premise. Relevance logic has to give up at least one of those rules, none of which is easy to give up.

# I'm having trouble appreciating Kant's moral philosophy. According to him an action is bad if we can't universalize it as a maxim of human behavior. Under that way of thinking being gay is bad because if everyone was gay nobody would have any babies and that means you are willing the non-existence of the human race which would be a contradiction if you want to exist. So I guess bisexuality is okay but being a monk isn't. The reasoning seems absolutely bonkers if you are gay whether from choice or from nature there is no reason to surmise that you think everyone has to be gay. If Kants moral philosophy is so lame I must admit that it prejudices me against his whole philosophical system. Is there any reason why I should give Kant's ethics more credit?

The nice thing about the Kantian approach is that it does not allow for exceptions in just my case. Of course, this result stems from the fact that the Kantian approach doesn't allow for exceptions in any case, which many philosophers regard as a reductio of the approach. For example, Kant famously prohibits lying to a murderer even to protect an innocent potential victim. Most people have strong intuitions to the contrary: lying is presumptively or defeasibly wrong, we say. A false theory can imply true consequences; it's the false consequences that are its undoing.